4 – MONDAY, APRIL 10, 2006
Editor: K.C. Meadows, 468-3526
Letters from our readers
The Ukiah Daily Journal
To the Editor: Here we go again! In your editorial of April 4th, “A Great Alternative,” it is fine to praise the City of 10,000 Buddhas’ schools, but why do you feel it necessary to toss in an insult at the public schools in the process?
You recently heard from me in response to your editorial welcoming charter schools where I took offense to your suggestion that the rise of the charters is due to parents wanting to be involved in their children’s education.
This time you again juxtapose two dif- ferent school systems, both valid, and in your comparison you unfairly craft one as virtuous and the other frivolous and dubi- ous. Your public school criticisms (“cultur- al overkill, cell phones glued to heads, lat- est styles and gossip sessions”) -- unwar- ranted and without merit -- are hyperbolic and not grounded in any logical context.
How about giving us an article inter- viewing the many parents in this communi- ty who have seen their children successful- ly go through the public schools and go on to lead productive lives; or an article on the many academic, extracurricular and sup- port programs provided by UUSD schools that are not found in the alternative school systems; or an article on the UUSD schools’ tremendous overall success in exceeding their API growth targets? At least, please stop the snide insinuations about our valued and respected public schools. This will give me a break; I have other things to do.
Carol Stump Ukiah Editor’s note: For those who think we make nothing but “snide” comments about the public schools, I would like to point to the dozen or so positive Page 1 feature stories we have run on programs and people at our main stream public schools just in the last month. They include the story about the reading pro- gram at Frank Zeek that has attracted attention from as far away as Korea, the teen theater program with Willits High School students that was presented at Ukiah High, the story about local high school graduates now in the clothing busi- ness, the Ukiah High students’ “pam- pered pooch” business and the new peer court to be made up of local high school students. On top of those we also had sev- eral news stories about the exit exam alternatives, UUSD’s attempts to get grants to stem violence on campus and new math standards.
This does not include the weekly school page on Mondays or the many stories we run each week on Ukiah’s student athletes in our sports pages. And none of this includes our coverage of Mendocino College.
To the Editor: I have lived in this community for the past 23 years. During this time, I have come to believe that the people of this area are intelligent, informed Americans. Who appreciate the democracy in which we live. I believe that we as a whole have high standards where our democracy and our democratic process are concerned.
Recently, some person or persons have belittled us as a community. They have insulted us as a whole and our democratic process as well. Last week some one van- dalized an election sign that was posted in Brooktrails. The sign read, “Elect John Pinches 3rd District Supervisor.” Someone stenciled over Mr. Pinches’ sign, with cru- elly slanderous words. I think this is dis- graceful, distasteful, and insulting, not only to Mr. Pinches, but also to our com- munity. The person or persons responsible for this vandalism, obviously support another candidate. They must not have much faith in their choice for supervisor, which is insults their candidate as well. Do they honestly think, the people of this community are unintelligent enough to believe such ridiculous and empty slander such as this. We the people of the third district are certainly intelligent enough to decide for ourselves for whom we should vote, based on the candidate’s experience and qualifications.
I find candidate bashing to be distaste- ful, uneducated, and uncivilized behavior not only to us, but to our democratic process as well. This person or persons should not only face charges of vandalism, but should have to answer to us as well, for this act which degrades us and our democracy.
Michael Ann Riley Laytonville
The Daily Journal welcomes letters to the editor. All letters must include a clear name, signature, return address and phone number. Letters are generally published in the order they are received, but shorter, concise letters are given preference. Names will not be withheld for any reason. All letters are sub- ject to editing without notice. Editing is generally limited to removing statements that are potentially libelous or are not suit- able for a family newspaper. You may drop letters off at our office at 590 S. School St., or fax letters to 468-3544, mail to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 749, Ukiah, 95482 or e- mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From around the nation
The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y. On ADHD drugs
There are few more con- troversial, confusing issues regarding children and edu- cation than the use of power- ful stimulant drugs to counter the effects of atten- tion deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Last week, an advi- sory panel of the Food and Drug Administration wisely and somewhat courageously tried to remove some of the confusion without adding to the controversy.
The FDA's pediatric advi- sory committee rejected a call for "tougher" warning labels on ADHD drugs, rec- ommending instead that the labels be written more clear- ly. This would allow drug manufacturers to alerts par- ents to possible, but rare, serious side effects of the drugs - heart attacks, halluci- nations and other psycholog- ical problems - without scar- ing away thousands of peo- ple who need and would benefit from the drugs.
The pediatric panel's rec- ommendation conflicts with that of the FDA's drug safety and risk management com- mittee. That panel advised using the strongest possible warnings on some of the drugs, to warn doctors, par- ents and patients of potential risks. Given the suspicion that the drugs - Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall, Strattera
are too casually prescribed
by some doctors and that some parents and teachers look upon them as quick fixes for behavioral prob- lems, there certainly is rea- son for concern about seri- ous side effects. But the pediatric panel correctly warned about the confusion such strong warnings would inject into an already con- fusing issue. And of course, it would surely drive away children who would benefit from the drugs.
And many do. That's the problem. ADHD drugs can
and have worked miracles in children's lives. Children who cannot focus, who are regularly disruptive, impa- tient or impulsive in class have been transformed into model students through use of one of the drugs. Their academic world is trans- formed from a negative to a
Pediatrics says 70 percent of patients are helped through use of the drugs. That's sig- nificant, given that about 3.3 million Americans under 20 years of age used one of the drugs last year.
The controversy arises over the method of diagnos- ing the disorder. ADHD is a behavioral diagnosis. There are no easy physical symp- toms to check. Blood work won't do it. Rather, doctors must confer with parents and teachers and assess a child's full medical and educational record to determine if he or she (it tends to be boys) has a legitimate disorder.
At least that's what is sup- posed to happen. It is safe and fair to say that the thor- oughness of those assess- ments varies widely. The tendency to want to help a child do better in school is understandable, but doctors and parents must become better educated on the risks of misdiagnosing ADHD. At the same time, there are also potential serious risks to children from not diagnos- ing ADHD. It would be especially unfortunate if exaggerated fear caused this.
Clearly, all parties involved - doctors, parents, educators, patients and phar- maceutical companies - need to do more collaborative work on figuring this out. That's why any move to clearer labeling, as opposed to scare labeling, makes sense at this time. The FDA was wise to ask for a second
opinion. It should take it to heart.
(Wash.) World On benefits for illegal aliens
If sufficient signatures are collected, Washington will have its version of Arizona's Proposition 200. That is the xenophobic citizens' initia- tive passed in 2004 to deny "public benefits" to illegal aliens and require state employees to check papers and report suspects to feder- al authorities.
Copies of the text are not yet widely available, but from news accounts it appears the Washington measure would have a smaller impact than some anti-immigrant types might expect. Illegal immigrant children won't be packed up and kicked out of schools and the sick won't be turned away from hospitals. Those "public benefits" must be supplied by federal law. Non-citizens are already barred from receiving cash welfare, Medicaid and other services, despite paying taxes to support them. Lying about citizenship to vote is already a felony.
The main impact of such an initiative would be to deny health care to pregnant women, or boot farmwork- ers' children from day-care, or root out the children of immigrants from colleges and universities - the few state benefits available to undocumented aliens. It also, incidentally, would turn brown-skinned people with accents into suspects, in the eyes of state employees.
An initiative like this will accomplish nothing that could even be modestly regarded as immigration reform. ...
WHERE TO WRITE
President George Bush: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washing- ton, D.C. 20500; (202) 456-1111, FAX (202)456-2461.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: State Capitol, Sacramento, 95814. (916) 445-2841; FAX (916)445-4633
Sen. Barbara Boxer: 112 Hart Senate Office Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20510; (202)224-3553; San Francisco, (415) 403- 0100 FAX (415) 956-6701
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: 331 Hart Sen- ate Office Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20510. (202)224-3841 FAX (202) 228-3954; San Francisco (415) 393-0707; senator@fein- stein.senate.gov
Congressman Mike Thompson: 1st District, 231 Cannon Office Bldg, Washing- ton, D.C. 20515. (202) 225-3311; FAX (202)225-4335. Fort Bragg district office, 430 N. Franklin St., PO Box 2208, Fort Bragg 95437; 962-0933,FAX 962-0934;
Assemblywoman Patty Berg: State Assembly District 1, Capitol, Rm. 2137, Sacramento, 95814. (916) 319-2001;Berg's field representative in Ukiah office located at 104 W. Church St, Ukiah, 95482, 463- 5770. The office’s fax number is 463-5773. E-mail to: assemblymember.berg@assem- bly.ca.gov
Senator Wes Chesbro: State Senate District 2, Capitol Building, Room 5100, Sacramento, 95814. (916) 445-3375; FAX (916) 323-6958. Ukiah office is P.O. Box 785, Ukiah, 95482, 468-8914, FAX 468- 8931.Email: email@example.com.
Mendocino County Supervisors: Michael Delbar, 1st District; Jim Watten- burger, 2nd District; Hal Wagenet, 3rd Dis- trict; Kendall Smith, 4th District; David Col- fax, 5th District. All can be reached by writ- ing to 501 Low Gap Road, Room 1090, Ukiah, 95482, 463-4221, FAX 463-4245. firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit our web site at ukiahdailyjournal.com email us at email@example.com
Bolten needs to focus on economy
Editor’s note: Morton Kondracke is on vacation. We offer this column by political reporter Donald Lambro of the Washington Times. By Donald Lambro
WASHINGTON -- If there is one strategy President Bush's conservative supporters want his new chief of staff, Josh Bolten, to put into effect it is an aggressive marketing campaign to promote the economy's perfor- mance.
And there are signals from the West Wing that Bolten is going to do just that with some strategic per- sonnel changes, possibly including a new Treasury sec- retary to replace battle-weary John Snow, and a beefed up, politically-savvy promotional offensive to tout the economy's strengths and continued good health.
Outside of the war in Iraq, no other issue has been more frustrating for the White House and supply-side tax-cutters. The U.S. economy remains strong, shrink- ing the unemployment rate, boosting exports and fuel- ing a bullish market on Wall Street, but the president's scores on his handling of it are mediocre. The Gallup Poll reports that only one-third of Americans rate the economy as good or excellent. Bush's job-approval grades on the economy have been at 40 percent and lower in recent weeks, a figure that has generally been "stable across the last several months," says Gallup.
Especially galling for the White House are polls showing that, despite the great numbers the economy is producing, Americans by a margin of 53 percent to 38 percent think the Democrats would do a better job than the Republicans in managing it.
"That's really baffling in light of the economy's growth," says Cesar Conda, Vice President Dick Cheney's former domestic policy adviser who now offers outside advice to the White House on economic issues.
Conda thinks that with the midterm campaigns approaching, and polls showing voters in sour political mood about a broad range of issues, how the country perceives the economy's health will be critical to the elections' outcome this fall.
"It's crucial that Republicans focus on the economy and begin telling the story about how strong it is, and I think we'll see that reflected in a possible new focus by the White House on the economy when Bolten takes over," Conda told me.
Bolten, the former budget director, comes into the top job with a lot of skills that departing chief of staff Andy Card didn't have in terms of policy development and policy implementation -- particularly on econom- ics and budget policies. He has privately expressed concern over the president's poor polling scores on the economy and is determined to change that in the months to come, former administration officials told me.
"I think Josh will definitely push hard to make sure the American people know how good the economy is. It's important to be aggressive on that," said Trent Duffy, the former White House deputy press secretary.
"You've got a really hot economy, job creation is up, but people may not feel it until August or September," he told me.
If Bolten can implement a plan that goes over the heads of the news media (which turns anything good about the economy into a negative), there is a great story to tell about how the economy overcame terrorist attacks, corporate and accounting scandals, war, oil price hikes and one of the worst hurricanes in U.S. his- tory -- thanks to tax-cut policies that unlocked the investment capital needed to fuel its expansion.
We've seen some of the evidence of this resilience and strength in the last three months. Among them:
The Conference Board's March Consumer Confi-
dence Index rose to 107.2, its highest level in four years.
On Wall Street, the Dow has shot up to over
11,000, while the Nasdaq composite and S&P 500 stock indexes closed at five-year highs last week. Small cap stocks, reflecting small- to medium-sized businesses, have been the leader in the economy's broad-based resurgence.
Job growth has gathered momentum, hammering
unemployment down in 39 states over the last 12 months, while employment has risen in the past year in 48 states. Jobless claims have been in a long decline. The unemployment rate has fallen below 5 percent.
The consensus forecast for the economy overall is
that it has grown perhaps by nearly 4 percent since Jan- uary.
While the housing market has cooled down from
its frenetic pace, the building industry is still hot. The Commerce Department reports that construction spending grew by 0.8 percent in February, up by 0.4 percent the month before.
This is the optimistic, uplifting can-do story about the U.S. economy that deserves to be told and often. The economy has its share of problems, to be sure, from layoffs at GM to a sharp spike in oil and gas prices, but the majority of Americans have every right to feel confident about its continued growth and pros- perity. If Bolten can get this story told effectively and dramatically, Bush's polls should jump.
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